State Watch

DeSantis eyes $5,000 bonus for unvaccinated police to relocate to Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Sunday that he is looking to enact legislation that would provide a $5,000 bonus to police officers to relocate to the Sunshine State where they can avoid vaccine mandates. 

DeSantis told host Maria Bartiromo on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that Florida is “actively working” to recruit law enforcement officers from other states who are being fired for not getting COVID-19 vaccines.

“We’re actually actively working to recruit out-of-state law enforcement, because we do have needs in our police and our sheriff’s departments. So, in the next legislative session, I’m going to hopefully sign legislation that gives a $5,000 bonus to any out-of-state law enforcement that relocates in Florida,” DeSantis said.

“So, NYPD, Minneapolis, Seattle, if you’re not being treated well, we will treat you better here. You can fill important needs for us, and we will compensate you as a result,” he added.

The governor’s comments come amid his escalating conflict with the Biden administration over its impending vaccine mandate, which will require businesses with 100 or more workers to require vaccines or weekly COVID-19 testing.

DeSantis announced last week that he was calling a special session of the state legislature in an effort to fight the vaccine requirements.

DeSantis’s office clarified to The Hill in a statement on Monday that the bonuses will be available to any law enforcement officials who wish to relocate in Florida, whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated.

“But vaccinated police officers from anywhere in the country would also be welcome here and eligible for the same bonus. They will not be asked to verify their vaccination status as a condition of hiring or employment here,” his office said.

“In other states, police officers who are vaccinated are also considering leaving the force due to other challenges, such as the anti-police rhetoric and political threats of defunding law enforcement in certain parts of the country (these tend to be the same areas terminating first responders over vaccine mandates),” his office added.

DeSantis announced the one-time signing bonus initiative in August. The state legislature is now tasked with passing legislation and appropriating funding for the bonuses.

The governor on Sunday said Biden’s mandate is “unconstitutional,” adding that it will “wreak havoc in the economy” because of the potential for employees to leave or lose their jobs.

“And so, in Florida, our policy is very clear. We’re going to have a special session, and we’re going to say, nobody should lose their job based off these injections. It’s a choice you can make. But we want to make sure we’re protecting your jobs and your livelihoods,” DeSantis said.

The governor also said that most first responders previously had COVID-19 and recovered, “so they have strong protection.”

“And so I think that influences their decision on a lot of this, that they have already had it and recovered. And so they’re making no accommodations for that. They’re still pretending like that doesn’t even exist. And so that’s really, really troubling when you see that,” DeSantis added.

Reports have mounted in recent days of employees quitting their jobs or being fired for not complying with vaccine mandates.

Washington state’s Office of Financial Management announced last week that nearly 1,900 state employees have either quit their jobs or been fired for not abiding by Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Chicago is also in the midst of a high-profile dispute with the city’s main police union over its vaccine mandate. 

–Updated at 11:58 a.m.

Tags COVID-19 vaccine mandates Jay Inslee Maria Bartiromo Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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